How to start rock climbing? Expert tips from Toni Jelenić!

source: Toni Jelenić

Rock climbing isn’t just a sport; it’s a symphony of adrenaline, strategy, and sheer determination, played out on the grand cliffs and mountainsides of our world. It’s an activity that draws adventurers and thrill-seekers alike, eager to push their limits and reach new heights—literally. For those curious about how to start rock climbing, and what it involves, there’s no one better to guide us than Toni Jelenić, a seasoned climber whose life revolves around the vertical challenges of nature.

“I am Toni Jelenić, and mountains and climbing are my way of life,” Toni begins, his voice infused with the enthusiasm of someone who has found his true calling. Living in the small Istrian town of Labin, Toni is strategically positioned a mere stone’s throw from some of the most iconic climbing spots in Europe. “From the Slovenian Alps to the majestic Dolomites and our own beloved Paklenica, I’m never far from my next climbing adventure. Not to forget Učka, my local mountain, where I find peace and recharge after rigorous climbs.”

For beginners interested in rock climbing, understanding what to wear to rock climbing is fundamental. According to Toni, starting with the right gear is crucial. “Beginner rock climbing enthusiasts should focus on securing a good climbing helmet, harness, and shoes. These are non-negotiable for safety and performance,” he advises. As you progress, other equipment like carabiners, ropes, and quickdraws become essential. Toni emphasizes the importance of quality and safety certifications, recommending brands like La Sportiva and Petzl, which adhere to rigorous standards.

Gran Paradiso
Gran Paradiso, source: Toni Jelenić

If you’re pondering how to start rock climbing, Toni suggests looking beyond the gear. “Rock climbing is as much about mental preparation as it is about physical. Understanding the routes, weather conditions, and your own limits is crucial,” he explains. For those just dipping their toes into this exhilarating world, joining a climbing gym or taking beginner courses can offer a supportive environment to learn the ropes, quite literally.

The journey of a rock climber is filled with challenges and rewards, a sentiment that Toni captures perfectly. “Every climb pushes your boundaries, teaches you about resilience, and ultimately, brings you closer to understanding both the mountain and yourself.”

As we delve deeper into the essentials of rock climbing, from what to wear for rock climbing to mastering your first climb, stay tuned for more insights from Toni. Whether you’re looking to conquer your fear of heights or simply embrace a new outdoor hobby, rock climbing offers a unique blend of excitement and introspection. Let’s climb on.

How to Start Rock Climbing and How to Gear Up

In our expansive conversation with Toni Jelenić, a fervent rock climber with years of experience, we explore the nuances that turn the challenge of climbing into a profound passion. Toni’s journey began long before he ever set foot on a climbing route. “I have always been drawn to mountains and heights,” he shares, reflecting on his early days of hiking high mountain ranges. “After every descent, the desire to return grew stronger, pushing me toward climbing as the next logical step.”

This step unlocked new realms, making once unreachable peaks accessible and marking a pivotal moment in his life, spurred by the inspiring tale of George Mallory in “The Lost Explorer.”

Balancing a regular job away from the mountains, Toni maintains a disciplined schedule, weaving his climbing adventures into his weekly routine. “I tend to climb twice a week at various sport climbing sites and try to dedicate weekends to alpine climbing routes in the Alps or Paklenica,” he explains and adds that everything depends on weather conditions. This balance extends to his fitness regimen, where he engages in functional full-body workouts three times a week to stay in top shape for climbing’s rigorous demands.

For those curious about how to get into rock climbing and what to wear for rock climbing, Toni offers invaluable advice on gearing up for success. “Beginner rock climbing enthusiasts should prioritize securing a reliable climbing helmet, harness, and shoes,” he advises, emphasizing the importance of equipment certified by UIAA for safety and reliability.

He personally vouches for brands like La Sportiva, Mammut, Petzl, Millet, Black Diamond, and Climbing Technology, which are renowned for their quality and adherence to safety standards. “These foundational pieces are crucial as you start rock climbing and later, you can expand your kit with carabiners, ropes, and other essentials.”

Diet and physical preparedness also play critical roles in a climber’s journey. “I pay a lot of attention to my diet, ensuring it’s consistent whether I’m at lower altitudes or up in the mountains,” Toni notes. This strategy prevents his body from experiencing drastic changes, facilitating smoother transitions and better performance during climbs.

Toni’s insights not only illuminate the practical aspects of what to wear to rock climbing and how to start rock climbing but also underscore the profound personal growth and satisfaction derived from this challenging sport. As we delve deeper into the world of rock climbing, Toni’s experiences and advice offer a solid foundation for both newcomers and seasoned climbers aiming to reach new heights.

Paklenica climbing
Paklenica, source: Toni Jelenić

The Importance of Proper Training and Education

Continuing our engaging discussion with Toni Jelenić, we delve deeper into the essentials of embarking on a rock climbing journey. He strongly advocates for formal education in the sport, emphasizing the value of accredited programs. “Definitely enroll in a sport climbing or mountaineering school that operates under a licensed program of the Sport Climbing Federation or the Croatian Mountaineering Association,” Toni recommends. He points out the importance of learning from licensed instructors who can provide not only expert guidance but also ensure safety—a crucial element for all climbers, especially beginners figuring out what to wear for rock climbing and how to start rock climbing safely.

Toni highlights the advantage of having an experienced climber by your side, especially one who has gone through formal training. “This is not only about learning how to climb but also about understanding how to minimize risks through proper safety practices,” he explains. According to Toni, the foundational skills taught in these schools are critical, as common beginner errors often involve mishandling technical and safety equipment, which can lead to serious accidents.

Reiterating the need for the right gear, Toni underscores, “Always wear a climbing helmet, use only licensed and certified climbing equipment, and know how to safely use belaying devices.” These are non-negotiable aspects of climbing that safeguard both the climber and their partner. The technical part of climbing, he notes, is often the easiest; the challenge lies in ensuring safety through effective belaying and risk management.

Beyond the technicalities and safety measures, Toni speaks to the heart of climbing. “First of all, have a love for climbing. Do not chase grades or expect rapid success. It’s a long-term journey filled with learning and personal growth,” he advises. Climbing, according to Toni, is punctuated by peaks and troughs in progress, and maintaining patience through these cycles is essential. He has witnessed many enthusiastic beginners who progress quickly but become frustrated when inevitable challenges arise.

“I will engage in climbing as long as I breathe air and will enjoy every moment on the rock and in the mountains,” Toni shares, reflecting a deep and enduring passion for the sport. His perspective is a reminder that climbing is not just about reaching the top but about the lessons learned and the joy found along the way. His advice for beginner rock climbing is to embrace the journey, enjoy the process, and always be prepared for the rewarding challenges that climbing presents.

A Deep Dive into Climbing Preparation and Community

In this part of our exploration into the world of rock climbing with Toni Jelenić, we uncover the deeper, more introspective aspects of climbing that go beyond just figuring out what to wear for rock climbing or how to start rock climbing.

Climbing on Ortler
Ortler, source: Toni Jelenić

Toni, with his profound experience and wisdom, shares insights that resonate not only with beginners but also with seasoned climbers.

“I cannot single out any climb as particularly demanding because I approach every new ascent as if it is the most challenging,” says Toni. His approach is a testament to the mindset required to tackle both the literal and metaphorical mountains one encounters in climbing. Whether scaling the rugged faces of Paklenica, the soaring heights of the Dolomites, or any high mountain ascent, Toni’s consistent approach underscores the universal challenge and allure of climbing.

Toni is not only a climber but also a mentor, serving as one of the leaders at the “Summer Mountaineering School” for the alpine club “PUT” from Rijeka. This role allows him to pass on his knowledge and passion to new generations of climbers, emphasizing the importance of preparation.

“Every climber has their style of preparation. For me, it includes everything from selecting the camping site to analyzing the route and monitoring weather conditions,” he explains. This meticulous preparation helps him maintain calmness and confidence, crucial for successful ascents.

Training varies significantly based on the climb. “For ascents above 3500 meters, I focus more on cardio, while for tougher routes on sport climbing sites, strength, endurance, and specific climbing exercises on a hangboard are essential,” Toni details. This adaptability in training demonstrates the physical diversity required in rock climbing.

Discussing the climbing community, Toni describes it as a unique and familial space. “For me, it is like a second family,” he states, highlighting the supportive and communal nature of climbers who share a bond forged by mutual challenges and triumphs.

Reflecting on his journey from a beginner to a seasoned climber, Toni recalls a crucial learning curve. “Initially, I thought climbing was mostly about using the arms, but I soon learned it’s the legs that are key. This shift in understanding dramatically improved my climbing,” he shares. This insight is particularly valuable for those new to the sport, often making the same mistake.

Toni’s philosophy extends beyond climbing techniques. “My only and main desire is to climb. I don’t chase goals; I value the growth process, both physically and mentally,” he says, adding that climbing has taught him patience and calmness, qualities that have enriched his life beyond the mountains.

For those wondering how to get into rock climbing, Toni’s advice extends to finding a quality mentor or instructor. “Alongside a climbing school, one of the most important factors is having a quality mentor or instructor,” he concludes, emphasizing that the right guidance is crucial for safely and effectively entering the world of climbing.

Through Toni’s eyes, we see that rock climbing is more than just a sport—it’s a journey of continual learning and personal evolution, a theme that resonates deeply within the climbing community and inspires anyone looking to start their own ascent.

As we conclude our journey through the exhilarating world of rock climbing with Toni Jelenić, it becomes evident that climbing is much more than a physical endeavor—it’s a path to self-discovery and a metaphor for life itself. Toni’s insights, deeply rooted in years of scaling some of the world’s most challenging peaks, provide not only a blueprint on what to wear for rock climbing or how to start rock climbing but also profound lessons that resonate with anyone standing at the foot of their own personal mountains.

Rock climbing on Grossglockner
Grossglockner, source: Toni Jelenić

Toni’s narrative is a tapestry of passion, preparation, and perseverance. From the meticulous planning of each ascent to the philosophical reflections on the nature of climbing and growth, he exemplifies what it means to truly embrace the climber’s journey. His role as a mentor and leader in the “Summer Mountaineering School” further underscores his commitment to guiding others along this vertical path, sharing not just techniques but also the ethos of climbing.

For Toni, and for many who have followed similar trails, rock climbing transcends the act of ascending rocks. It is about confronting challenges, embracing uncertainty, and learning to navigate through life’s ups and downs with grace and resilience. It’s about how to get into rock climbing not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

In his message to fellow climbers and to those still contemplating their first climb, Toni offers a poignant reflection: “Whoever seeks a goal will be empty when they reach it, but whoever finds the PATH will always carry the goal within themselves.” This statement is a beacon for both novice and experienced climbers, encouraging them to look beyond the summit for their rewards and to find joy in the climb itself.

So, whether you are a seasoned climber or just wondering what to wear to rock climbing for your first session, remember that each step upward is a step inward. Rock climbing is not just about reaching the top; it’s about growing with each climb, learning about your strengths and limitations, and ultimately, discovering that the most rewarding paths are those that challenge us to be better than we were yesterday.

With Toni’s story as inspiration, we are reminded that in the world of climbing, as in life, the true victory lies not in conquest, but in the courage to continue, the wisdom to evolve, and the joy found in every moment spent on the rock. Let us climb, not just to see how high we can get, but to see how deep we can go into the essence of who we are and who we can become.

Gran Paradiso
source: Toni Jelenić
Paklenica climbing
source: Toni Jelenić
Climbing Paklenica
source: Toni Jelenić
Rock climbing
source: Toni Jelenić
Tofana di Rozes
source: Toni Jelenić

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